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Chapter 3: The Newtonian Revolution and the Discovery of Natural Law Ptolemy vs Copernicus Tycho Brahe’s observations Kepler and the planetary laws Galileo:

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 3: The Newtonian Revolution and the Discovery of Natural Law Ptolemy vs Copernicus Tycho Brahe’s observations Kepler and the planetary laws Galileo:"— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 3: The Newtonian Revolution and the Discovery of Natural Law Ptolemy vs Copernicus Tycho Brahe’s observations Kepler and the planetary laws Galileo: the telescope, foundations of mechanics

2 Motions of the Planets Back in the old days, planets pretty much WERE astronomy. Stars didn’t seem to DO anything, except rise and set. And galaxies, nebulae… invisibly faint and undiscovered. Greeks LOVED circles. Even made a semi- religion out of them. The Pythagoreans - believed the Universe was based on the perfect circle and integer numbers. But…

3 Jupiter in retrograde loop

4 A Sequence of Images of Mars

5 Retrograde Motion: About once a year, the planets appear to go backwards in the Sky For fans of simple, uniform, circular motion, this was a problem. But the Greeks were true scientists – they didn’t sweep inconvenient facts under the rug. How to account for this while preserving the appeal of an earth-centered universe? There were actually some sensible reasons leaning towards an earth-centered solar system…

6 If the Earth were in fact moving around something else… … we’d see the stars undergoing a reflex motion called “parallax”. (unless of course, the stars conspire to all move in such a way as to counteract parallax – but this seems quite contrived. Careful (but crude by today’s standards) observations showed no parallax motion during the year. So: Either (1) the earth is motionless with respect to the apparently fixed stars, or (2) the stars are so vastly far away that their parallax motion is undetectably small with their technology. The Greeks went with (1). Doh!…. They were wrong! – they should’ve gone with door #2!! Let’s continue with the historical progression and explore how the earth-centered model persisted for a really unfortunately long period of time…

7 Ptolemy – Greek (Egyptian) Astronomer 100AD made first decent quantitative model of the planets’ motion It had the Earth at the center It placed the planets Mercury and Venus carefully to match the observed angle offsets between the sun and these planets. Accounted for retrograde motion with epicycles. Then needed to offset the center of epicycles. Then needed epicycles on top of epicycles… Taken literally, it was ugly. But mathematically, it was brilliant!

8 This conceptual layout isn’t correct in literal scaled epicycle size and position, since Mercury’s greatest solar elongations are 27 degrees, and Venus’ is 47 degrees. The whole system doesn’t bear too close a scrutiny because again, epicycles on top of epicycles are needed as observations improved. But the basic idea of non-crossing epicycles and orbits is part of the essence of the Ptolemaic Model

9 Ptolemy: Dogmatic, or Innovative Mathematical Modeler? We don’t know for sure. Some evidence suggests that he was agnostic on where the center of the solar system was. He just wanted the simplest, most concise calculation device for determining the positions of the planets – BIG success here!

10 Of course, one can jam a nail through the Earth and COMPEL the rest of the Solar System to do ALL of the moving… As observations improved after Ptolemy’s death, this is what forced epicycles on top of epicycles, and deferrents away from the centers. His construction is essentially what we would call today a Fourier de-composition of the motions of the planets, and this is still to this day the most efficient way to calculate planetary positions for many moderate-accuracy needs. But we do know – History went south, enforcing the Earth-Centered original Ptolemy model as a matter of Christian dogma.

11 Interesting - Aristarchus in ~600BC first deduced the planets orbited the sun, not the Earth His reasoning is not known – original writings were lost when the great Library of Alexandria was burned by religious zealots The Greeks had no authoritarian religious problem with a sun-centered universe. But, They reasoned if the earth orbited the sun we should see parallax motion in the stars. They didn’t, and so thought the earth must be at the center… Very unfortunate decision, as luck would have it.

12 The Ptolemaic Model Became the Official “Truth” for Many Centuries Why? What else was going on around ~100AD ?

13 The Rise of the Church Ptolemy introduced his model at the time of the rise to power of the Christians in western civilization. The earth-centered model was in line with their belief that the Earth is the center of God’s universe and God’s attentions. It became dogma… to be challenged only at the risk of being “re- educated” in, for example, the dungeons of the Inquisition Fear is a bad ingredient to introduce into the quest for knowledge. Progress… stopped.

14 There followed 1,500 years of intellectual stagnation – or worse – in the West In the 1550’s Nicholas Copernicus challenged the Church with his realization that the motions of the planets could be understood much more simply if all planets revolved around the sun…


16 Retrograde why

17 Was it just a matter of symantics as to who got to be called “the center of the solar system ?” Or, is there an observational test which rules one way conclusively? Enter… Galileo

18 Galileo

19 Galileo’s Telescopic Discoveries Heard about the invention of the telescope by Hans Lippershey in 1610, and immediately ground his own lenses and built the first astronomical refracting telescope. Got him into MAJOR trouble with the Catholic Church, which pretty much ruled western civilization at this time and for a millenium prior. He looked through his telescope and saw…

20 Mountains and Craters on the Moon! But, the church taught the moon was this perfect orb placed by God to light our nights. How DARE Galileo claim it was scarred with pox marks and mountains like this sinful earth? Heresy! Not good. Well,how about the next discovery…?

21 Sunspots! Black spots with irregular borders that grew and changed, much like malignant melanoma (skin cancer). But, the Church said the sun was this perfect orb placed by God to light and warm our days. How DARE Galileo claim it was scarred by ugly cancerous spots! Heresy! More trouble. How about the next discovery…?

22 Four Moons Orbiting Jupiter! Orbiting Jupiter?! But the Church taught that the EARTH was the center of the Universe… how DARE Galileo claim these moons circle Jupiter and not us! Heresy! Galileo is clearly getting in pretty deep. What about the next discovery?

23 Venus Showed All the Phases that the Moon Did The Church wasn’t as upset with this. But, they should’ve been – it’s the most fatal of all to the Church’s official cosmology These observations disprove the Ptolemaic model, as Galileo knew. Let’s see why, on the white board…

24 Bottom Line: Galileo’s Observations Show that Venus’ path must have the sun “inside” of it, and the Earth “outside” of its epicycle relative to the sun, as seen from the Earth, contrary to the Ptolemaic Model

25 Copernicus’ “De Revolutionabus” was an Underground Hit! Now the race was on – perfect uniform circular motion, even in the sun-centered model, didn’t reproduce the measured positions of the planets accurately. What is the True Shape and True Motion of the planets? To answer, we first need GOOD DATA! Enter… Tycho Brahe


27 Tycho Brahe – Danish Astronomer of late 1500’s Discovered the supernova of 1572, showed it was far beyond the planets – the first non-planet to be shown to be something other than fixed and constant. King of Denmark impressed, gave him an island and money to build the best scientific instruments of his day He read Copernicus, his goal: find the true orbits of the planets. He was an OUTSTANDING observer. Measured the precise positions of the planets, especially Mars, every clear night for 20 years, with an accuracy of +- 1 arcminute (!) But he was a mediocre mathematician. No problem – he had the money – he hired a good one!

28 Kepler picture

29 How did Kepler determine the shape of the planetary orbits? He was Very Clever! Kepler’s data was a table of times and positions of the planets. He figured, let’s start with a promising planet and once we’ve figured it out we can then streamline the work on the other planets. Let’s try and decide which would be a good choice for a first planet to tackle…

30 Kepler’s 1 st Law Planets orbits in ellipses, with the sun at one focus Like this…

31 Kepler’s 1 st law

32 Drawing an ellipse

33 Kepler’s 2 nd Law The sun-to-planet line sweeps out equal areas in equal times Often called the “Equal Area Law” Pick any time interval you want. The sun- planet radius sweeps through the same area during that time interval, regardless of where it is in the orbit. Said another way – the rate at which the sun-to-planet line sweeps out area, is constant throughout the orbit.

34 Kepler’s 2 nd law

35 An Animation showing the Meaning of Kepler’s 2 nd Law: “The Sun-to-Planet Line Sweeps Out Equal Areas In Equal Times” law.gif law.gif This law is an example of a more general rule – Conservation of Angular Momentum

36 AngMom definition

37 The Meaning of Angular Momentum Imagine something moving around an orbit, or if its rotating. Now imagine how much work you’d have to do to STOP that spinning. That’s a good feel for the amount of its Angular Momentum.

38 Kepler’s 3 rd Law Kepler found after he’d determined the orbits of all the 5 planets known then, that the larger the orbit, the longer it took to orbit the sun. He asked – is there a simple, quantitative law that describes this? He searched… Size of the orbit? There’s many ways one might try and quantify the size of an orbit. List some for me, gang!.....

39 Here’s a Few… Circumference of the orbit Sqrt(area of the orbit) Longest diameter Shortest diameter Sqrt(long * short diameters) Time averaged distance to the sun Spacial averaged distance to the sun

40 Kepler Tried Many and Found No Pattern, Until… … he tried the following… (Period) 2 = K a 3 Where a = semi-major axis = half the longest diameter of the orbit, and period is how long it takes to go around the sun What about K? K is a dimensional constant Consider Dimensions vs. Units…

41 Soon we’ll See how Newton Derived Kepler’s Laws from pure deduction from his laws of motion and of Gravity We’ll see that this little law – Kepler’s 3 rd law… P 2 = Ka 3 …Turns into what is probably the single most useful and valuable equation in all of astronomy. A story to be continued in the next slide show….

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